Let me start with a little bit of history. In the second century BCE, the first emperor of China, 13-year-old Qin Shi Huang, was afraid of death. So afraid, that as soon as he was enthroned, he started building his own mausoleum. The following 36 years, over 500.000 Chinese laborers worked on the mausoleum and an army of roughly estimated 8.000 soldiers and horses to protect the emperor in his afterlife against ‘the eternity of death’. The Terracotta Army was born.
The Terracotta Warriors and Horses were divided in legions between terracotta walls, covered with wooden beams, mats and earth. In 1974, local farmers digging a water well discovered what would turn out to be the largest pottery figurine group ever found in China. After years of excavations, the necropolis still holds many secrets.
The gigantic museum is almost as impressive as the Army itself. Start your visit with the exhibition hall (at the right side of the site), continue with pit 2 and pit 3 and end with the crème de la crème, pit 1. Pit 1 is the biggest: 230m long and 62m wide, containing more than 6.000 figures.
Getting there and away
You don’t need to book a daytrip to the Terracotta Army with a travel agency; you can perfectly do it on your own. In Xian, you can take the public bus, outside the city walls at the main train station. You pay on the bus itself. It is a one-hour single trip. When we were there, it was bus 306, the 7th stop, for 7 yuan – not sure if that’s still the case, but your ho(s)tel staff will be happy to help.
Experts say that the impressive Terracotta Army will disappear in a couple of years, as it is exposed to light, oxygen, and other external factors, so you better hurry up to get there!
What do you think, would you like to see the Army?